Samuel McBlain 1861
Samuel McBlain was twenty-six years old when he mustered into Company E on August 14, 1862. His brother George, who also enlisted, was twenty-two years old. George was wounded at Fredericksburg and died two months later. Samuel McBlain survived and led a notable life after the war. (1)
Born in Seneca, New York on May 30, 1836, Samuel McBlain was the son of Robert McBlain and Mary Martin, both Irish immigrants. (2) The 5-foot, 9-inch, dark complexioned, brown-haired, gray-eyed McBlain graduated from the Normal School in 1861. He taught in Geneva, New York and Dexter, Michigan before enlisting as a Corporal in the Normal School Company.
McBlain was promoted twice while serving with Company E. On March, 17, 1863 he was promoted to Sergeant, and on February 7, 1864 he was made First Sergeant. After the 44th N. Y. was disbanded in October 1864, he was transferred to 140th N. Y. Once in the 140th, McBlain continued to receive the accolades of his superiors. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1864, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on March 5, 1865. At Appomattox, he received a brevet promotion to Captain, and was mustered out with the 140th after the Grand Review in Washington D. C. (3)
Returning home after the war, he taught for one term before buying a ninety-four acre farm in Billsborough, a small crossroads, 5 miles south of Geneva, New York. On this farm McBlain raised thoroughbred Durham cattle and Stropshire sheep. (4) He married Miss Sarah Huie in 1866. During the war McBlain had carried a small picture of Miss Huie in his uniform pocket. This picture was in every engagement McBlain was in, all sixteen. (5) The McBlain's had 4 children, but only 2 survived to adulthood: Mills was killed as a young man in a horse accident and Thomas died at 9 months old. (6)
Samuel McBlain was deeply involved in the town affairs of Geneva, New York. He served as Justice of the Peace for 7 years, and was elected to this position by the unanimous vote of the Geneva Town Board who characterized him as an "intelligent and respected farmer. A Liberal Republican in full sympathy and fellowship with the Democratic party." (7) He traveled for the Mutual Life Insurance Company for 2 years and the State Experimental Station for many years. In October 1878 he was appointed delegate for the Town of Geneva at the Democratic Convention for Ontario County, held at Canandaigua, New York; and on September 27, 1879, he was elected to the Geneva Town Committee. (8) McBlain was appointed Postmaster for Billsborough on May 12, 1885, and remained in tha position for at least 8 years. (9) He was also a practicing attorney, known as "Squire" McBlain, and dealt chiefly with deeds and wills. (10)
Samuel McBlain died in 1919. "He was greatly respected for his sound judgment and was active in town affairs." (11)
1. George S. Conover, ed., History of Ontario County (Syracuse, NY: D. Mason and Company, 1893), 218.
4. Lucile M. Harford, The Country Cousin (Newark, NY: Vanderbrook Press, Inc., 1976), 131.
5. Original photo. Geneva Historical Society: Geneva, New York.
6. Harford, 132.
7. Geneva Gazette, 7 January 1876; Historical Sketch of the State Normal College at Albany, N.Y...., 189.
8. Geneva Gazette, 4 October 1878, and 3 October 1879.
9. Emma G. Koberg, Collected Postal History Notes of Ontario County, New York State (Empire State Postal History Society, 1978), 43.
10. Harford, 131.
11. Ibid., 132.
Documentation reproduced with permission of Chris Hunter and the Normal School Company website